Ricky's Riffs:

Random Thoughts on Travel, Education, Health, and the World in General


Some Early Thoughts on a Global Pandemic

March 23rd, 2020

We have suddenly been thrust into a global pandemic. Seemingly overnight, our lives have changed. Many of us are on lockdown, prohibited from leaving our homes except to go to the grocery store, the pharmacy, or the doctor. We must now maintain “social distance” to prevent infection, staying at least six feet from others.

There were already signs, back in December 2019, of a strange viral disease originating in the filthy live animal markets of China’s Wuhan province. Then it was seen in South Korea, and Japan. Somehow it jumped to Italy, and spread throughout Europe. All the while, from our “distant” perch–despite alarms being sounded by infectious disease and public health experts–our leaders looked on, and did nothing.Read the rest of this entry »


The War on Health Care

July 10th, 2019

Our health care system is in crisis. Everyone feels it. Premiums and deductibles keep rising, provider networks are narrowing, and the bite out of the average American paycheck gets bigger and bigger. Health care has taken center stage in the run-up to the 2020 election.

The Democrat arguments swing from elimination of the private health insurance industry and Medicare-For-All to a public option to buy into the Medicare system.  The Republicans have no plan, beyond destroying the ACA (Obamacare) and crying “socialism!”Read the rest of this entry »


Pain, the Opioid Crisis, and Alternative Care

November 19th, 2018

Drug overdoses killed approximately 72,000 people in in the United States in 2017. This was an increase of 10% from 2016. The two reasons cited are (1) Americans continue to use opioids in increasing numbers, and (2) there are more powerful, deadlier, synthetic opioids available in the underground marketplace—mainly fentanyl, which is 100 times stronger than morphine.  While the latter is the primary cause of fatalities, there is a connection between the two explanations.

It is established that of those who die of opioid overdoses, 80% started their use/abuse of these drugs with a prescription for pharmaceutical painkillers: for football injuries, work injuries, post-surgical pain, dental issues. Too many medical doctors prescribe these drugs routinely.Read the rest of this entry »


Interview: “A Rationale For a Single Payer Health Care System.”

November 9th, 2018

Ricky is interviewed by Michael Finney, consumer affairs reporter for Channel 7 Bay Area and KGO Radio, about his article “A Rationale For a Single Payer Health Care System.”


On the Opioid and Gun Violence Epidemics: Rationales in Common

September 19th, 2018

We are currently in the midst of the most lethal drug epidemic in our country’s history. One of the shocking things about this crisis is that it has been going on for the past 20 years without showing any signs of letting up.  In 2016, overdoses involving opioids killed more than 42,000 people.  Of those deaths, 40% were from prescription opioids.   (Statistics are still being finalized for 2017.)

Several recent books describe the evolution of this epidemic, each from a slightly different perspective.*  I’ll focus on just one of them here.Read the rest of this entry »


A Doctor Examines Trumpcare – Ricky’s recent Interview with Michael Finney

July 9th, 2017

Dr. Ricky Fishman talks about the current battle in Congress over Trumpcare, the unpopular bill being pushed by the Republican majority.  He describes the  effects of this bill on millions who may lose their health insurance and discusses where he sees health care going.  He believes that, in the end, we will have a single payer system.  However, the powers aligned against this movement are enormous.  Have a listen!


How the ACA is “Blowing Up” the Health Care System and Why That is a Good Thing

April 4th, 2017

The American Health Care Act (AHCA) was written, presented, lobbied for and rejected within the first 60 days of Donald Trump’s presidency. For eight years, the Republicans had made “repeal and replace Obamacare” their rallying cry.  Yet even with control of both the executive and legislative branches of the Congress, Republicans were unable to pass what was to be their “signature” piece of legislation. It died a messy death in the House of Representatives.

The rushed and poorly thought out bill was defeated by the Democrats as well as by the Freedom Caucus, the ultra-conservative wing of the Republican Party.

The bill’s defeat was a victory for the Democratic party, but also for America. The Affordable Care Act (ACA)—an important step on the path towards universal health care coverage for all Americans—was, for the time being, preserved.Read the rest of this entry »